Roe v. Wade 1973

Roe v. Wade was at the time, and remains, one of the most controversial U.S. Supreme Court decisions in American history. In a 7–2 decision, the Supreme Court declared that a woman’s right to abortion falls under the constitutional guarantee of privacy, but “this right is not unqualified.” The state “in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life” can regulate abortion after the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. In an unprecedented move, the Court issued a press release along with its opinion emphasizing that it does not promote “abortion on demand.”

In his dissenting opinion, Justice William Rehnquist chastised the majority for overstepping its authority. The Roe v. Wade decision affected the laws of 46 states.